Poetry Practice

Practicing poetry today while at work... 

My eyes are not working well today
They go in and out of focus
i close my eyes for a moment until I realize --
No! I cannot fall asleep.
I'm at work. In an office.
Was that phone ringing?
No, it was someone else's.

Why am I so tired?
Why does my body have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning?
Why is so hard to move lately?
I remember the days when I could run freely
Skipping, ok well I never really skipped but I did run freely
Joyously, with fire and passion
From one place to the next.
Setting a blaze behind me as a went, a trail of fiery passion
Burning, scorching, hot, hot heat.
Now I'm just lucky if I get out of bed on time.

What happened? Why am I so tired?


The Journey Home

I just finished Henri Nouwen's book, The Return of the Prodigal Son. As I read through this book I was impressed with not only how much of my own story fits into this parable and painting, but how much the journey to return home to the Father appears in other stories and scriptures. I realized that we rarely give this parable justice, lumping into the tales of why sinners turning back to Jesus is a good thing but this parable means so much more than that.

So because of that I am going to be writing a lot more about how the Prodigal Son narrative plays out in where I see Jesus move in the lives of students on campus and my own life.

What stands out most to me in this book is Nouwen's analysis of the elder son and stating the son's lostness. At Urbana 12, Ram Sridharan stated that elder son mistook proximity to the father for intimacy with the father. As I read throughout the book and saw the desperate lostness of an elder son who was by the father the whole time I see myself as one easily caught up in resentment and bitterness that I never felt I could "run away" and have wild escapades. I was responsible, the good child in my own family and in my Christian family. But here the Father ceases to become a father and becomes a slave driver where instead of joy, the elder son is filled with anger and resentment for never being "good enough" to be celebrated.

"Here I see how lost the elder son is. He has become a foreigner in his own house. True communion is gone. Every relationship is pervaded by darkness... There is no longer any trust. Each little move calls for a counter move  each little remark begs for analysis; the smallest gesture has to be evaluated. This is the pathology of the darkness. Is there a way out? I don't think there is - at least not on my side. It often seems that the more I try to disentangle myself from the darkness, the darker it becomes. It need light, but that light has to conquer my darkness, and that I cannot bring about myself. I cannot forgive myself. I cannot make myself feel loved. By myself I cannot leave the land of my anger. I cannot bring myself nor can I create communion on my own. I can desire it, hope for it, wait for it, yes, pray for it. But my true freedom I cannot fabricate for myself. That must be given to me. I am lost. I must be found and brought home by the shepherd who goes out to me."

What was so profound about the elder son is he has yet to understand how truly lost he is. That is what we see from the younger son. He realizes his lostness and comes home, where he know he will be found. But until the elder son sees his lostness, sees his life in darkness, he can never be found.

In many ways this transition out of college has been my journey home. There are times when I was the younger son - indulging in my own desires and leaving the promise of home. Most of the time I have been the elder son, working hard and expecting praise for every little thing I do. Expecting that my work, my effort, my love should be constantly noticed, reciprocated, and appreciated. But so little do I see my own lostness in that - lost in a world of desired praise without having ever set foot outside the door. This transition has been an invitation from Jesus into trust and gratitude, neither of which I'm natural at (although I would say it's not natural for most humans to be constantly trusting and grateful). Without trust, we cannot be found because we have to trust that the Father actually wants us home, we are important enough to be found. Without gratitude we become buried in resentment and joy becomes almost impossible. We can longer celebrate with those who are found again and feel we have not been given what we deserve.

As I continue on this journey of returning home to the Father, I now carry with me the difficult disciplines of trust and gratitude. We will see how this journey continues to unfold.


Solstice Canyon

I could stare at you forever. 
Look into the distance and marvel and at your beauty. 
I keep staring probably because it's hard to breathe because this hill was really difficult, 
and despite the fact that they say that I am not slowing them down, 
I know that my friends want to hurry and see more, keep moving. 
But I want to stop and breathe. 
Just take in your beauty.  

Is that too forward of me? 
I hope not because you are the most beautiful thing I've seen all day. 
The way your body moves and curves
The way your eyes, blue as the ocean lead me to tears
The flowers you wear, the purples, yellows, reds, all blended together so no one looked more lovely 
I could stand here for hours and just stare into your glory. 
Probably because then I have to walk back down this really difficult mountain (and it was quite a struggle to get up to the top anyway)
But it was worth it. So very worth it. 

I could stop and stare at you forever. 


Life to the Full

This weekend marks the anniversary of two very important markers in my life. The first being when I rededicated my life to Christ in 2007. The second being when I quit my teaching job in 2012.

Both had a huge impact on my life and very much set me to the place that I am today. Rededicating my life was the start of a journey of healing, of restoration, and of passion for my faith, for Jesus, for community, and for so much more. I have a heart for the city because of this event. I have a heart for the broken and the hurting because of that moment when I decided to actually follow Christ rather than just get a ticket into heaven.

Quitting my teaching job was the start of a breakdown that eventaully lead to some of the most powerful breakthroughs of my adult life. It was very much a restart and a re-experiecning the same healing, restoration, and passion that I God instilled in me back when I was 19. It was the beginning of my transformation as an adult, having to choose again to follow where Christ would lead me - even into the hardship and painful aspect of healing.

As I head into a new season with InterVarsity as a staff, a new place in Northridge I am reminded of God's faithfulness to bring healing, restoration, and life into the places I once thought were dead. For "the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full." (John 10:10)


Cake Cookies

Did you know that you can make cookies from a cake mix? Well I certainly did not until yesterday. I found this wonderful new recipe on Pintrest about using a cake mix to make cookies. I think I prefer it because when cooked properly, they have a very light and fluffy taste to them. I wonder if it would work with other cake mixes, I only tried strawberry. Perhaps Funfetti would be next?

Valentine's Day Strawberry cookies with cream cheese frosting and red sprinkles. Quite delicious.


Family Style

The way you eat your food says a lot about you. I saw this most clearly when I went to Thai food with two of my students, Mark and Sarena, and Sarena's parents and younger sister.

When we go to Saladang (one of the best Thai places I've ever experienced - can't wait to go there a second time), I was almost surprised when Sarena's parents began to order family style to share with the whole table. Normally when I go out to eat with friends, we typically get our own meal. I actually prefer to eat family style because I'm often indecisive and I like to have a little bit of everything. I also enjoy it because it bonds a group together in simple, yet oh so profound way. Instead of us being a group of six randomly connected people eating a meal together - we become a unit. We share all the food on the table and thus feel more comfortable to share our lives and our stories with each other.

It is a blessing to eat like this. I wish I could do it all the time. It was such a wonderful and unexpected surprise to be able to bond with the families of my students, to share the ministry in a family setting, and to just be welcomed in by them - into their favorite restaurant and into a bit of their life. It is here I see the value of getting to know the families of my students. We then become a larger community, where the parents of my students can influence and inspire me as I influence and disciple my students. What a wonderful thing to experience.

It's things like this that make me an honorary Latina.


Faith, Photography, and Zoos

4:30am wake up time. Trailhead is still dark when Ryan, Mark, and I arrive. Slightly unsure of where we are headed we make our way up the hill to a supposed cliff that overlooks the city of Los Angeles to see the sunrise. We make it just in time to see the sun rising over the city.

It was an amazing day of conversations about faith, friendship, even photography. I love my job sometimes. Also went to a new place - The Old LA Zoo, and conquered a fear of heights by standing on the cliff's ledge (and going outside the chain fence to to so.


Awkward Moments

A preview for my Monday Night Fellowship talk:

Jesus invites us to intentionally chose to have awkward moments in order to expose our thinking and gain a kingdom perspective. 

That is not always fun but always so worth.

More on that after next week.